Grass-fed meat and dairy products, products processed and sold in the farm shop

Description

The system shifted from conventional continuous stocking with high feed supplementation to an organic rotational system with much lower complementary feeding.

New breeds adapted to grazing were chosen: Salers beef cattle for meat and Jersey dairy cattle for milk. Grazing period is long; it starts in March and ends in December (about 9 months). All cattle are mainly fed on fresh grass in the grazing period and on conserved lucerne hay and silage in the housing period.

Meat and dairy products are directly sold on the farm (since 1994): butter, ice cream, yoghurt and vacuum packed meat of beef, veal and pork.

Skimmed milk, the by-­product of butter production, is used for feeding piglets. Recently, emails are sent to clients for announcing availability of specific products.

The farmer inherited a herd of Holstein Frisian and double-goal Belgian Blue cattle from his parents. He replaced them by Jersey cows for making butter and by Salers cows for beef meat. He replaced also green maize and purchased soybean meal by lucerne. He became self-sufficient in forage and fertilizers (with FYM compost).

He decided to become organic after contracting a lymphoma from pesticide use.

Productions of meat and milk sold to agro-industries were replaced by local and direct marketing of dairy and meat products.

The objective was to decrease production costs by increasing self-sufficiency, processing primary products, developing a customer base and a marketing strategy.

Farm description

Environment

  • Soil type: Loam
  • Climate: Temperate oceanic
  • Altitude: 70 m asl
  • Slope: 0 %

Grassland management

  • Grazing : Yes
  • Grazing management type: rotational (short period of stay)
  • Mainly silage and some hay
  • Most grasslands are exclusively grazed, none are mixed used
  • Exclusively mown temporary grasslands are cut three to four times a year

Structure

  • Annual Work Unit: 2.5
  • Agricultural Area : 83 ha UAA
  • Permanent grassland area: 45 ha
  • Temporary grassland area: 20 ha
  • Annual crop area: 18 ha
  • Breeds: Jersey dairy cows and Salers beef cows. Local pig breed (Landrace and crosses)
  • Stocking rate: 2.5 LU per ha of grassland area

Animal performance

  • Bull and heifer carcass at 42 months: 420 kg (R-O classifica1on)

Why it is working

The system is working because production costs were very much reduced and production is processed in the farm and sold in the farm shop.

Additional information

Farming system

organic farming

Domains of innovation

animal type (breed), grazing management system, marketing

Main types of animal

beef cattle, dairy cattle

Country

Belgium

Product type

Farmer portrait

Language

English, French

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